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7 proven tips to improve mobile app onboarding experience

TL;DR: You can enhance your mobile app's onboarding experience with a strategies, including simplifying the signup process, clearly showcasing the app's value, and ensuring immediate visibility of benefits and features. You can also employ user-centric mobile onboarding flows, progressive feature disclosure, and personalization to increase your app’s engagement rate. Also consider using visual aids, in-app guidance, and feedback loops to clarify functionality and refine the onboarding journey. Lastly, think about adding notifications and reminders to keep your app users engaged post-onboarding.

Is your mobile app’s onboarding experience causing users to disengage with (and maybe even delete) your app? Here, we’ll provide tips on how to improve the mobile app onboarding experience, to ensure users stay interested and engaged. 

This article provides you with straightforward, practical advice to attract new users and maintain their engagement after their initial login.

Key takeaways

  • Streamlining the signup process and clearly communicating the app’s value proposition during onboarding can significantly reduce user drop-off and enhance engagement.
  • Using progressive onboarding strategies, personalization tactics, and encouraging user exploration with interactive elements like gamification can increase user retention and foster a positive learning experience.
  • Incorporating visual aids, in-app guidance techniques, and feedback loops in the onboarding process helps clarify app functionality, optimizes user guidance, and enables continuous improvement based on user behavior and feedback.
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Optimizing the first-time user experience

A welcoming interface of a mobile app onboarding process

The first few minutes a user spends within your app can determine whether they stay or leave. The initial onboarding screen experience is crucial in setting the stage for app engagement and creating a lasting impression that convinces users of the app’s worth. However, this is where many apps stumble.

To avoid user drop-off, follow these tips:

  1. Streamline the signup process to make it as simple and quick as possible.
  2. Clearly communicate your app’s value proposition right from the start.
  3. Make sure the benefits and features of the app are immediately apparent to users.

By implementing these strategies, you can reduce user drop-off and increase user engagement with your app. 

Let's dive deeper into each of these three strategies to understand how they contribute to a better onboarding experience.

Tip: To ensure a seamless first-time user experience, focus on creating an intuitive and welcoming onboarding process that highlights the app’s core features and benefits from the outset.

Streamline the signup process

Creating a positive onboarding experience begins with ensuring the signup process is straightforward and effortless. It’s important to request only the necessary information right away, which helps in avoiding user irritation or potential discontinuation of use. 

Incorporating social media logins can greatly simplify this stage, as demonstrated by well-known apps such as Figma, SoundCloud, and Spotify.

An accessible and pleasant process for signing up boosts not just the immediate user experience but also sets a welcoming tone from the start. This encourages new users to engage more deeply with your app over time.

Showcase app value immediately

Enhancing the initial experience for new users is important, and a successful method to achieve this is by emphasizing the app’s key benefits at the beginning of their journey. 

Apps like Wise and Fastic use this tactic effectively to maintain user interest by showcasing value right from the get-go. By presenting these advantages early on, you can significantly boost user engagement and retention, which in turn increases conversion rates.

During onboarding, spotlighting core features plays an essential role. When these are linked directly to concrete benefits, it helps users quickly discover their ‘aha moment’. 

This realization of the app’s worth encourages continued use and satisfaction with your app.

Crafting a user-centric onboarding flow

Progressive onboarding process illustration

Crafting a user-focused onboarding flow requires an understanding of different app architectures such as webview apps, native apps, and hybrid apps

Each type offers distinct user experiences and onboarding challenges that must be addressed to ensure a smooth transition for the user from first-time app launch to full app engagement.

A user-focused onboarding flow requires:

  • Understanding the preferences of users
  • Customizing the onboarding experience to align with their behavior patterns
  • Selecting an appropriate method for user onboarding that resonates with both the complexity of your app’s interface and the characteristics of your intended audience.

Employing progressive onboarding is an effective approach. It introduces users gradually to different features within the app while they navigate, employing mechanisms such as tool tips, hints, and overlays that facilitate a gradual educational progression.

Tip: To craft an app onboarding flow that resonates with users, incorporate understanding of different app types and tailor the experience to user behavior and preferences.

Progressive disclosure of features

Progressive onboarding is a strategy that guides users through the app step by step, revealing only essential information at each stage. 

This approach simplifies the learning process by deferring advanced features to secondary screens, making onboarding more manageable and effective, especially for complex products with numerous functions.

Apps like Toggl and MyFitnessPal employ progressive disclosure to enable users to explore and learn about the product’s features at their own pace, adapting to their individual needs. 

The key to implementing progressive disclosure effectively in a webview mobile app or any other type of app is to provide users with clear, intuitive cues for accessing additional features when they're ready and to introduce more complex functionalities as they become more comfortable with the app's interface.

Personalization tactics

Incorporating a tailored approach within the user onboarding sequence significantly enhances engagement levels among users. 

By categorizing users according to their behavior patterns or demographic characteristics, it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of how various groups engage with elements of the user onboarding process. 

Through progressive profiling, there is an opportunity for ongoing collection of primary data from users, which contributes to more comprehensive profiles and fosters trust.

To personalize the experience during user onboarding, strategies might include:

  • Addressing the individual by name
  • Asking targeted questions that pave personalized routes aligning with their specific requirements and interests
  • Leveraging predictive analytics — drawing upon past data combined with machine learning techniques and statistical algorithms — to project forthcoming actions and tastes pertinent to each user

This results in delivering an exceptionally customized function oriented onboarding journey that is finely tuned to individual preferences.

Tip: Simplify your signup process by incorporating social media logins to provide a frictionless start to the user journey.

Encouraging exploration

Encouraging users to independently explore an app is a critical element in crafting an effective onboarding experience. Gamification, exemplified by ProdPad’s checklist — an innovative approach that turns the onboarding process into an interactive game by presenting users with a series of tasks, each leading to the next in a cleverly designed journey— awarding additional trial days upon reaching pivotal ‘AHA’ moments, promotes user engagement. 

Incentives such as badges, points or levels also stimulate deeper interaction with the app and encourage discovery of its various features.

An innate UX design enhances this sense of self-guided exploration by allowing users to grasp the fundamental operations naturally without needing extensive instruction. 

By making tutorials and instructional content readily available either directly within the app or on the associated website, empowers users to educate themselves about different functionalities according to their individual learning pace.

Tip: Keep your onboarding process dynamic and engaging by incorporating interactive elements that resonate with your user's journey.

Using visual aids for clarity

Visual aids enhancing onboarding experience

The onboarding process is enhanced by the adding of visual aids, which serve allows users to understand your app better. To make the mobile onboarding experience more captivating and aesthetically pleasing, you should consider employing:

  • Vivid hues
  • Pronounced typefaces
  • Dynamic animations
  • Illustrative graphics
  • Video components

These features help users effortlessly understand how to navigate and use an app. 

Essential too are instructional overlays and gradually introduced cues like coach marks that pinpoint essential functions within the user interface while clearly communicating their purpose in a non-intimidating manner.

Incorporating completion indicators such as progress bars or checklists provides users with transparent milestones in their onboarding journey. This not only facilitates a sense of orientation, but also encourages them toward finishing the setup process.

Tip: Keep onboarding concise and focused to maintain user attention and prevent information overload.

Interactive tutorials

Throughout the onboarding process, incorporating interactive tutorials has proven to be a highly engaging strategy for maintaining user interest. 

Implementing elements of gamification, like earning badges, collecting points, and progressing through levels, can enhance user involvement and foster feelings of fun and achievement. 

Amplifying this effect are celebrations of users’ milestones with lively animations or comparative stats that encourage continued positive engagement while intensifying their learning journey.

During the exploration of an app’s features, guided interactions via tooltips help facilitate a practical learning environment for users. Such hands-on guidance ensures more effective absorption of information. 

The addition of onboarding checklists complemented by progress bars empowers users to monitor their own mastery over key aspects while engaging in clearly defined tasks — leading to an enriching interactive onboarding experience that keeps them active participants throughout the entire introduction phase.

Contextual onboarding

By offering guidance when it’s most relevant, contextual onboarding improves the chances of users succeeding and avoids bombarding them with unnecessary information. 

Platforms like LinkedIn employ progressive strategies while Slack leverages in-app chatbots to help users navigate profile setup or explore platform features as a component of their contextual onboarding approach.

Through introducing features slowly, progressive onboarding decreases the risk of swamping users with too much at once. 

Supportive tutorials provide additional assurance that users can navigate the app confidently without confusion, thereby increasing app user engagement and retention.

In-app guidance techniques

In-app guidance techniques in mobile app onboarding

In-app guidance techniques are essential for a smooth mobile app onboarding experience. Simple, user-friendly methods like step-by-step product tours, hands-on walkthroughs, clear tooltips, checklists, and easy-to-find help centers are key to helping users learn how to use an app. 

  • Interactive walkthroughs are good at making sure users remember what they learn and stay interested. 
  • Tooltips are little messages that pop up and give helpful hints right where users need them.
  • Checklists are a great way to guide both new and experienced users through the important steps they need to take to make the most of the app. 
  • Help centers, or places within the app where users can go to find more information and support, are also very useful. 

All these techniques are part of meeting app testing requirements to ensure users can navigate and use the app without any problems.

Just-in-time information

Contextual guidance employing straightforward UI components and pop-up messages is delivered just-in-time, helping app users navigate new features. 

Tinder serves as a model for this approach during onboarding, offering tailored interaction that reacts to user activity — for instance, deploying push notifications if an assignment is overlooked or showcasing fresh functionalities in their relevant context.

In-app notifications are used by services like Userpilot to broadcast new features, while platforms including LinkedIn, Instagram, and Strava customize the introduction process. 

They direct new users of mobile apps — including those engaging through smartphones — through initial profile configuration and fundamental actions central to the onboarding phase specific to mobile apps.

Accessible help resources

An in-app help center with a searchable database of easy-to-follow videos, guides, and documents is key for supporting users. 

Apps like MyFitnessPal, possibly developed with a user-friendly app builder, is a great example of how to use simple tutorials to introduce users to an app’s features. These resources help explain complex functions in a straightforward way.

Keeping the onboarding process available for users to return to is important for ongoing learning and supports those who might need extra help later on. 

This continuous availability of help resources is like having a personal guide inside the app, carefully added by the app builder to ensure users understand and keep using the app.

Tip: Providing a comprehensive in-app help center with searchable tutorials and guides ensures users have the support they need, anytime. This approach empowers users to self-serve, enhancing their confidence and autonomy in navigating the app.

Feedback loops and user engagement

The onboarding experience can be significantly improved and the user engagement can be increased by incorporating feedback loops into the process. 

By collecting insights from users regarding their experiences, it’s possible to identify specific areas that need enhancement within the onboarding journey. 

Integrating both feedback mechanisms and progress indicators helps motivate users as they navigate through a positive and measurable onboarding experience.

It is essential to analyze onboarding funnels in order to understand at what points — and for which reasons — users discontinue with the process. This analysis is critical in pinpointing where bottlenecks or pain points occur during user onboarding.

Collecting user feedback

Collecting user feedback through methods such as surveys, interactive in-app prompts, or feedback forms provides valuable insight into what users anticipate and how they perceive their experiences. 

Using live chat tools and getting direct user responses during controlled testing environments can pinpoint recurring problems and areas of confusion within the onboarding process.

It’s critical to gather qualitative feedback from users to grasp the reasons behind specific behaviors exhibited during the onboarding phase. 

This type of information discloses underlying motivations and hurdles that cannot be fully explained by quantitative data alone.

Tip: Collect user feedback through surveys and in-app interactions to gain insights into their onboarding experience, enabling continuous improvement and user satisfaction.

Analyzing user behavior

It's important to keep an eye on how users interact with your app, especially during onboarding. By using analytics, you can see where users might be getting stuck and make changes to facilitate their progression. 

Track specific actions users take, such as tapping buttons or swiping through screens, to understand which parts of onboarding are working well and which are not. 

Heatmaps are helpful as well — they show us where users are clicking and not clicking — that tells us what is catching their attention.

Also, look at how different groups of users move through the onboarding process over time using cohort analysis — a method of analyzing user behavior by grouping users into cohorts based on shared characteristics or experiences.

This helps us understand whether the way we introduce users to the app is making them more likely to stick around and keep using it.

Key points to remember:

  • Monitor user actions with analytics to find problem spots in the onboarding process.
  • Use heatmaps to see what parts of the app are getting the most and least attention.
  • Perform cohort analysis to understand how the onboarding experience affects long-term app use.

Refining the onboarding strategy

It is essential to define a precise objective for the onboarding process, as it allows for an evaluation of its effectiveness and understanding of user turnover while pinpointing potential areas that require refinement. 

Monitoring indicators like trial registrations, in-app transactions, and membership enrollments helps gain insights into how users interact during their app onboarding experiences and highlights aspects that may need improvement to create a more seamless experience.

Executing the onboarding experience with excellence plays an important role since it can boost retention rates among users by as much as 50%, making it indispensable for fostering robust in-app conversion metrics.

A/B testing for optimization

To optimize app onboarding and strengthen user retention, A/B testing is essential. It's a method similar to conducting Google Play review time experiments, where two variations of the onboarding process are tested against each other to determine which is more effective. 

This approach is particularly useful for developers, as it allows them to refine their onboarding strategy proactively. By comparing different strategies, you can see their impact on crucial phases such as user activation and continued engagement. 

The practice of relentless A/B testing cultivates a culture of experimentation, knowledge acquisition, and continuous refinement, all of which are key to enhancing the onboarding experience and meeting the expectations set during the Google Play review time.

Updating onboarding for new features

It’s important that the design of the mobile app onboarding is adaptable to seamlessly integrate enhancements and newer functionalities. 

When enriching the app onboarding with new attributes, you must thoughtfully introduce them without compromising its fundamental value proposition or overwhelming existing users with excessive details.

As an app matures and diversifies, it’s important for the corresponding mobile app onboarding experience to advance as well. 

It should inform users about fresh capabilities via updated mobile app onboarding screens to preserve fluidity in the app’s user onboarding flow, underlining why a strong approach to mobile app onboarding is significant.

Leveraging notifications and reminders

Personalized push notifications for mobile app onboarding

By integrating a strategic approach that encompasses emails, in-app messages, and personalized push notifications, onboarding processes can be significantly optimized. 

Using the Google Play publishing service and App Store publishing service, e-commerce app, Shein effectively deployed push notifications to entice new users with promotional discounts, enhancing their continued interaction with the app — a prime example of the effectiveness of push notifications to boost user retention.

For apps like Spotify, which rely on regular user engagement for their success, the role of push notifications becomes even more demanding. 

These notifications, facilitated by the strong infrastructure of app publishing services on platforms like Google Play and the App Store, act as vital prompts that encourage users to return and engage with the app on a consistent basis.

Tip: Use push notifications carefully to maintain user engagement without becoming intrusive, ensuring each message provides value and relevance to the user's experience.

Timing and personalization of messages

In order to enhance visibility and user engagement, it’s important to factor in time zones and appropriate times for dispatching push notifications. 

To avoid overwhelming users while maintaining effective communication, these alerts should be scheduled with a frequency that is both sector-appropriate and reflective of insights gained from monitoring user engagement and click-through statistics.

Taking advantage of location data can also boost the relevance of push notifications by ensuring they are received when users are near locations relevant to the message. 

Crafting communications that resonate on a personal level involves combining demographic profile information with behavioral patterns, allowing for highly personalized messages designed to increase user interaction.

Educational content in notifications

Incorporating instructive content within push notifications can seamlessly prolong the app’s initial onboarding process. 

This allows for continual educational moments, ensuring that users gain a comprehensive understanding of how to make use of the app’s capabilities.

By sending out push notifications that clarify the advantages and functionalities of various features, users receive timely information that contributes to improving their overall experience with the application.


In conclusion, streamlining the signup process and showcasing the app’s value proposition from the outset are pivotal for a positive first impression and user retention. 

Employing a user-centric onboarding flow with strategies like progressive disclosure, personalization, and encouraging exploration can significantly enhance user engagement.

Visual aids and in-app guidance techniques are essential in clarifying app functionality, while feedback loops and behavior analysis are critical for refining the onboarding strategy. 

Notifications and reminders play a crucial role in sustaining user engagement, making them integral components of an effective onboarding experience.

Frequently asked questions

Why is the initial onboarding experience crucial for mobile apps?

A compelling onboarding experience for mobile apps is essential as it forms the foundation of user engagement and leaves an enduring impression that persuades users about the app’s value. This initial encounter can greatly influence user retention, thereby affecting the app’s longevity and success.

What is progressive onboarding?

Progressive onboarding is a tactic employed to introduce new users to an app incrementally, unveiling crucial details progressively. This approach facilitates an easy and natural educational journey for newcomers.

How can personalization enhance the onboarding process?

By customizing the onboarding process to align with each user’s unique preferences and behaviors, a deeply personalized onboarding experience is crafted. This tailored approach not only boosts user engagement but also fosters greater adoption rates.

*DISCLAIMER: This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not exhaustive and may not be relevant for your requirements. While we have obtained and compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. This content is not to be considered professional advice and does not form a professional relationship of any kind between you and LLC or its affiliates. is the industry-leading end-to-end solution for developing, publishing, and maintaining native mobile apps for iOS and Android powered by web content. When considering any technology vendor we recommend that you conduct detailed research and “read the fine print” before using their services.*
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